31 December 2006

A surprise in the garden

My garden continually surprises me. I was given this pot of begonias earlier this year by a friend who moved. They duly flowered in spring and then I just admired their leaves. This week, I noticed these purple flowers start to open and realised they were attached to a totally different plant in the same pot. I should have realised this earlier - Stephanie loves to plant more than one type of plant in a pot - but it took me unawares. My question is: what is the name of the plant? Can anyone help me with identification?

30 December 2006

Zen again

Having finished reading Zen and the Art of Quilting, I have to confess my disappointment. The concept promised so much, but the book didn't explore the theme as well as it could have. There were tenuous links to the principles and the book was full of tedious anecdotes that stated the obvious. What a let-down for such a (potentially) meaty subject! I would love to tease out the themes myself. Will put my thinking cap on.

Today was a perfectly relaxing day, topped off with yum cha with my Dad - all those delicious dumplings stacked up in bamboo baskets that entice with their contents. We filled ourselves with delicacies and green tea - what a wonderful way to dine.

29 December 2006

The power of friendship

Today my friend Monica visited for the last time before she leaves Sydney to travel to the USA to start a new stage in her life. She is going to a place where snow is a normal part of winter. Leaving the middle of summer to arrive in the middle of winter, she is looking forward to the challenges ahead. Here she is, holding a small quilt I made to cheer her during those wintry days. Simple sunny flowers to lift her spirits.

There were tears, but the most emotion was shown when I passed over a friendship quilt that Brenda had made on behalf of Monica's friends at The Quilters' Guild of NSW. Each circle on the quilt had a personal message to Monica - some written, some embroidered. Brenda appliqued the circles to squares and pieced, quilted and bound the quilt. Monica was stunned and thrilled to receive such a treasured gift. Thank you Brenda, for the time you took to make Monica's quilt. It is a quilt that shows the power of friendship.

28 December 2006

Dyeing discovery

Thanks for the comments about my simple dyed fabrics. I've been doing a little research this morning and have discovered a fabulous site called Paula Burch's All About Hand Dyeing.

It is heaven! Including short videos of techniques, Paula has assembled masses of information that will keep me busy for a very long time! Sometimes I don't know what I want until I see it, but I have certainly seen plenty here. I'd love to know of any other dyeing sites you'd recommend as well.

27 December 2006

Simple pleasures

I confess I am pleased by simple things. Today I experienced such a pleasure when I dyed more fabric. It's truly magical to watch white fabric turn into a coloured treasure, right before my eyes. I had five metres of fabric to dye, but soon whipped through that, so I had to rummage around in the stash to find some more. I guess I ended up with about seven metres in the end. I dyed larger pieces than before - I tried to do half-metres or larger. Here they are drying on the clothesline in the dappled sunshine of a Sydney day. All together now - aaahhh.

26 December 2006

Zen and the art of quilting

Now when I read a sentence like this - "A Zen quilt is one begun out of a desire to make it rather than to have it." - I just have to read the rest of the book. So far I've read a couple of chapters and although all the stories are from the USA quilting scene, I think I will be able to draw some universal truths from it. Stand by...

25 December 2006

A Sydney Christmas

Christmas day is here and in Sydney it is unseasonally cool. Just the right weather to be eating too much food, unwrapping pressies and lolling around. To make a perfect day even better, it may even rain. Happy Christmas to you all.

24 December 2006

New blogger

I took up the invitation to convert my blog to the new version of Blogger today. Relatively painless, but I haven't worked out how to add buttons to my links yet. I've been a bit bored with the look of my old blog, so updated to this beautiful, clean design. To me, the colours are soothing and restful - but hey, I'm always going to choose blue if it's an option! What do you think of the new look?

Rain, glorious rain

Not only has it been raining since last night, but we have just experienced a series of thunderstorms that dumped even more water on us. My garden is looking temporarily bedraggled, but it is soaking up this unexpected pleasure. What a wonderful gift for Christmas.

23 December 2006

Rosemary and Thyme

One of my favourite tv series is Rosemary and Thyme, an English series about two women who set up a gardening business and go around snooping into other people's business. Oh and they solve lots of mysteries along the way.
Not only am I a sucker for any show that allows me to vicariously traipse through some stunning gardens, but also I love strong female characters. Oh, and I can also wish that my poor garden looked so divine! And did I mention I want hair like Felicity Kendal's?

22 December 2006

Hello holidays

The first day of my holidays has been spent with a sleep-in to recover from yesterday's party. The mystery was revealed at 1.30pm - we went barefoot bowling at the local lawn bowls club! What fun it was, starting with a lesson from a club member, Richard, who was quite polite even when we did stupid things. Divided into teams, we played game after game and some of us didn't win a single one! (guess who?) Here's a photo of some of my workmates on the green.
Followed by general socialising and a barbecue (and liberal numbers of drinks - it was very hot), we celebrated the end of our working year. I left about 9.30pm, but there were still others going strong!

So the holidays are here and I am ready for lots of r&r.

20 December 2006

Party time!

Tomorrow is our end of year party at work, and where we are going and what we are doing is secret. Not only don't we know what's happening, but that age-old problem has been made even harder - what should we wear?
Indoors or outdoors? Near the coast or inland? Do we have to travel? These are dilemmas that can't be solved until 1.30pm tomorrow, when we are told where the party will be held.
It will be a long day. Starting at 1.30 and going into the night...there may be some tired and emotional people by the end of the day.
I have a wrap-around blouse that I am thinking of wearing but only if I can work out how to hold it all together at the top. A small brooch may be in order, or maybe I'll just flaunt it. Sometimes clothing decisions are just way too hard to make.

19 December 2006

Two more sleeps

Two more sleeps. Two more sleeps. That's how close I am to the holidays. I'm hanging out for a break from work so that I don't have to think about a deadline for anything. I can smell the holidays from here...

17 December 2006

Background noise

I'm not a fan of background music while I'm stitching. I find it distracting and after a while it annoys me and makes my sewing lines crooked (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Listening to the cricket, however, is an entirely different story.

Cricket and sewing go hand-in-hand. With the Ashes on at present, I find that the television coverage, turned down low, is the perfect background. You know that if a wicket is claimed it will be shown about 10 times on replay so you don't miss out on the action. Test games take up to five days, so there are plenty of boring bits too.

Last night, though, the cricket had my full attention as the Australian batsmen showed how to score runs. Absolutely fabulous viewing - and yes, I did finish the small quilt I was working on!

16 December 2006

Keeping secrets

How difficult it is to keep a secret! I am stitching a small quilt as a gift, so I can't show you a picture until after my friend receives it. This is killing me - keeping my sewing private and not sharing - but maybe I've just made it worse by offering a tease?

I was at the local shopping centre bright and early this morning to buy the items on my list. Aaaarggghh! What a nightmare shopping centres are at this time of year. I was there before most of the crowds and I fled after an hour but it still took nearly 15 minutes to leave the car park. I need a soothing cup of tea to settle myself...

13 December 2006

Japanese diversity

Remember the quilt I am handpiecing from Japanese prints? Well, it has been a while since there was any progress, but now I have some new fabrics to add to the diversity. My friend Monica gave me these pieces the other day while I was helping her sort out her stash. They should add to the visual interest in the blocks, don't you think?

12 December 2006


Tonight I set up my brand spanking new broadband access. Yipee! It is sooo much faster than the old dialup - of course! I can't believe how excited I am about another piece of technology...

09 December 2006

A change of interest

Last week, a friend was clearing out a pile of old quilting magazines. I was lucky enough to be given first pick of any that I wanted to keep, before I passed them onto others in our quilting group. I've spent the past week browsing the magazines and there weren't many that I kept.
The magazines were English and American patchwork magazines. It was interesting to see, after I'd put aside the pages I wanted to keep, the sort of subjects I'd selected - not a single pattern, but just articles about technique.
Obviously, my interests have changed. In the past, I may have opted to keep the odd pattern or photo of an appealing quilt. This time, I was hungry to learn more about HOW to do certain things. Amongst the articles I kept was one on dyeing techniques and one on various applique techniques as taught in the City and Guilds course.
It's always intriguing looking at quilting articles. It seems be be true that whatever you are interested in, somehow, some way, the information and inspiration you need will present itself. Do you find that is true for you, too?

06 December 2006

Christmas ATCs

I have a fondness for making and swapping ATCs with friends. They are such a fun size to try out different techniques. Last weekend, I acquired these lovely Christmas-themed ATCs from friends - Brenda, Monica and Sandra (shown in order from top). Aren't they the most beautiful little pieces of textile art?

04 December 2006

I am so thrilled

No, I didn't make this quilt. It was stitched by my dear friend Chrissy as a gift for me and it arrived in the mail today. I knew she had made it because she told me months ago, but I hadn't seen it until I opened the package this evening. It cheered me up so much!

The hearts are made with Chrissy's own created fabric and it is extensively machine stitched, embellished with hand embroidery and beading. It is simply exquisite and I am so thrilled to have it here as a tactile reminder of a very close friend who lives across the sea. How lucky I am.

03 December 2006

Soft and pretty

Perhaps it is because I am feeling frail and wobbly after a nasty dose of food poisoning, or perhaps it is because it is cool and showery here in Sydney, but today I had the urge to start something soft and pretty. I don't usually do pretty, but I cut a whole lot of 2 inch strips from the stash and made the blocks shown here. This is the arrangement for today, but I will probably change my mind later. Very simple, mindless sewing, but also very soothing. I have the absolutely perfect spotted fabric for a border, once I reach that stage.

Yesterday I was physically at the Christmas meeting of the Quilters' Guild of NSW, but without much energy. Pity - there was much to enjoy with a change in the format of meetings and a wonderful afternoon tea (none of which I touched). Crawled home afterwards and was asleep by 6pm. Never have I loved my bed so much!

27 November 2006

Ta da!

Here it is dear blogging friends! Watermelon Summer is finished and will make it to its destination by the deadline. Whew!

26 November 2006

A blast from the past

Earlier this morning, as I was searching for a particular piece of fabric, I unearthed this UFO. It's always a relief to me to discover that I still actually like the pieces I start! This one is made of felt, with inserts I created from offcuts of gorgeous fabrics and yarns. As you can see, I've only half finished the quilting (with lime green perle thread) and have a few beads and shisha mirrors on it. The thing with handwork is that it takes ages to do, which is probably why I put it aside after starting it last year, but now it is back on the to do list!

25 November 2006

Larch shibori

Helen asked how the circular shibori patterns were made on the piece I showed last week. Here are my diagrams of how to form the stitching. Drawing is obviously not my best skill, so I apologise if they look a little rough.

You simply fold the fabric and stitch multiple lines in semi-circular shapes through both layers. Gather up the stitches and then dye the fabric. The diagrams here give you an idea of how to stitch a piece so that it is covered with circles, but for my piece I wanted a border. I made a single fold along a long strip and sewed four rows of semi circles along the fold, then gathered and dyed. That's all there is to it! Hope this helps, Helen.

21 November 2006

Hot, hot, hot

I know summer is just around the corner, but really! It was 39 degrees at my place today and that's just way too hot. Luckily, I wasn't here - I was at work where it was a very mild 35 degrees.

I woke up during the night with the smell of bushfires wafting through the window. The fires are many, many miles away in the Blue Mountains, outside Sydney, and now they are burning out of control in inaccessible areas.

Tomorrow is forecast to be even hotter - oh how I wish I worked in an air-conditioned office...

20 November 2006

It must be November

Welcome to November in Sydney. Taken last Saturday, this photo shows a quintessential Sydney November day. We always know that when the jacarandas are in flower, summer is not far off. Look at that sky! The brilliancy of the pure, saturated colour stops you in your tracks and makes you feel as if you can wrap yourself in a cerulean cloak.

19 November 2006

More colour

You may consider that I am over-pleased with the results of my dyeing day, but look at these 14 pieces! Aren't they simply gorgeous? One day, I may even cut them up and sew them...

This is my favourite piece, destined to be a border I think.

This is another favourite. It was simply folded, accordion-like, across the fabric and then folded again. I absolutely love the lines and the patchiness. Okay, no more I promise until I do some more shibori stitching.

18 November 2006

Playing with colour

Yesterday, Brenda and I had a play day with dye. When she initially suggested a day together, I thought that it would be fun to do some shibori stitching and dyeing. I had just finished reading Janice Gunner's book, Shibori for Textile Artists, and wanted to experiment with some stitching. With hindsight, I think this probably marks the beginning of a new addiction.

Here are our fabrics, cooking in their bags in the sun after we had dyed them. Yesterday we must have been on the same wavelength, because we seem to have dyed an awful lot of orange.

I had success with my wavy lines of stitching - I think this is a subtle pattern that I'd like to explore further. My grid of horizontal and vertical lines was a dud - not a single pattern emerged after the dyeing was completed. Maybe I didn't gather the thread tightly enough?

Here is my success. This will make a beautiful border, with its long, single row of larch patterns. Well, they are actually lopsided (who knew I couldn't stitch a perfect semi circle?), but that adds to the appeal for me. Brenda made a single piece with allover larch patterns and it is glorious.

The colours shown here look a little lighter than they actually are. It is a brilliant day here in Sydney and the sun is beating down on my fabrics as they flutter on the clothesline. More pics tomorrow.

15 November 2006

It's amazing where it takes you...

You may recall I wrote about a recent afternoon when I taught a friend to use a sewing machine. Well, much has progress has been made since she made her first cushion cover under my instruction. Yesterday, I received an email from her, in which she says that she has since made "more cushion covers than cushions I am actually willing to have in my house!"

What an exciting and gratifying outcome this is. Before two weeks ago, she had never touched a sewing machine but expressed a pressing interest in learning.

Next step: she wants to make a quilt, so I suggested a cot quilt. Let's see how that develops!

13 November 2006

A new type of soft sculpture?

Well, no! Before you decide I appear to have lost the plot, let me explain what these textiles represent. Yesterday I spent a LONG time stitching some fabric in preparation for dyeing later in the week. The plan is to create some shibori patterns on the cloth. The photo above is a folded pattern called 'Larch' and the stitching involves four rows of semi-circular shapes.

This photo is the easiest to stitch - multiple rows of curved patterns.

This piece does appeal to me as an object, but in fact it is stitched both vertically and horizontally in a grid.

I can't wait to see how the patterns look and I promise to share photos if they work out. If they don't, I'll probably cut the fabric into tiny pieces and use it on my next batch of ATCs.

11 November 2006

Hunter Valley NSW

The Hunter Valley of NSW is known for many things, but is famous for the number of vineyards and fine wines in the area. Yesterday, we travelled there on a small bus from Sydney and enjoyed visits to three boutique vineyards. "Boutique" in this instance means that the wineries do not produce enough product to sell it to shops, so the only way you can sample their wine is from the cellar door. Our driver, Ray from Boutique Wine Tours, looked after us all day. Here is a photo of us at the second winery, Iron Gate. The look of anticipation is clear, as we await our tasting.

The final winery was Tallavera - look at that view! Perched on the top of a hill not far from Cessnock, this vineyard was the place we all wanted to stay for a short nap on the grass, but sadly the host there made us sample more wines!

It was a wonderful day. Stunning weather, the company of friends - oh, and did I mention we went to a cheese shop and a chocolate shop? Sigh...

10 November 2006

Happy birthday Lois

Today is my friend Lois's birthday. I was lucky enough to celebrate it with her and 11 other women in great style. We travelled to the Hunter Valley for the day and visited three boutique vineyards for wine tasting and enjoyed a wonderful lunch in the shade. What a treat for a Friday!

07 November 2006

A little flutter

You can't be an Australian without knowing that the first Tuesday in November is the Melbourne Cup. It's not just a horse race, but it is an event that everyone throughout the nation stops to watch - in Melbourne, it's even a public holiday! Of course, at work we joined in the festivities with a glass (or two) of bubbly and a very tasty afternoon tea.

Guess who won the sweep? Not only did I receive the prize for first place, but also won third place! Not bad for a race that lasts a mere few minutes.

06 November 2006

Documenting our work

I am very lax at recording the quilts that I make. Sometimes that is because I am in a rush to finish a piece and forget to photograph it before I give it away and other times I just move straight onto the next project. Tonight, though, I started to work out how to document my quilts.

Digital images of my quilts have been accumulating on my computer, but I hadn't organised them in any way and certainly hadn't written any text to go with them. I suddenly had a panic about them tonight and decided to deal with them in a couple of different ways: to keep the digital images (with meaningful names) together in a folder on the computer; to create Word documents that include the image and text; and to print these documents out for my spiral-bound folder. I'll probably also burn them all to CD once I truly get organised.

I would love to know how you organise your quilt records. Please post a comment and let me know what you do - maybe we can learn some new tricks from each other!

05 November 2006

Cheerful postcard

Here is today's textile achievement - a fabric postcard to (hopefully) cheer a friend who is unwell. I'm starting to enjoy these 6 inch x 4 inch pieces. They are fun to make and provide the opportunity to try out new ideas. I thought a vase of bright flowers would be just the thing to add a dash of colour to her day.

02 November 2006

I so love daylight saving

Look what I found when I visited my pot plants this evening! This epiphyllum is in flower and aren't the blooms gorgeous? I so love daylight saving because now I can actually see my garden in between weekends.

Sadly though, I also found that something had eaten all the leaves off my Italian parsley plants (I have a huge tub full) and left just the bare stalks standing upright. Who knew that there are gourmet insects in my garden?

01 November 2006

Go Helen!

It has just been announced that Aussie quilter (and, I'm pleased to say, my friend) Helen Godden has won the Maywood Studio Master Award for Innovative Artistry at the International Quilt Festival in Houston for her quilt Mekong Gold. Helen has won $5000 (US!) plus a trip to the Festival.

If you haven't seen any of Helen's work, check out her website. She is a brilliant artist. I had a peek view of this quilt some months ago and it is simply stunning. The winning quilts can be seen on this site now.

Go Helen!

29 October 2006

How much we take for granted

It's intriguing how much of our accumulated knowledge and experience we take for granted. I was recently asked by a friend to teach her how to use a sewing machine. She badly wants to make a quilt, but realises she needs to know how to sew with a machine first, so she decided to make a cushion cover for her new home.

Yesterday afternoon, she arrived with fabric, masses of fabric, because she had no idea what she was going to do. She had no concept of how a cushion cover could be constructed.

To be brief, she did make the cushion cover, using my sewing machine. She threaded the machine and she stitched, with me explaining every step of the way what to do and why. She knew absolutely nothing about the process before she started, yet after a couple of hours, she left with a perfectly functional and very attractive cushion cover. I haven't seen anyone that happy for a long time.

The exercise was interesting for me because, as someone with many years of workplace training experience, I was able to unconsciously apply that knowledge to teaching different skills. Having enjoyed teaching adults in the past, I realise that I still do find it satisfying. How much we take for granted.

28 October 2006

This is becoming obsessive...

A friend wanted me to show her how to make silk paper, so today we had a how-to session. She happily made several sheets with a range of colours, but what did I make? Pink and yellow!
Now I'm itching to stitch this piece. It is smaller than my usual sheets (about half A4) and looks a bit like fairy floss.

27 October 2006

What a treat!

One objective achieved today - to purchase a copy of The Right Attitude to Rain. This is the third novel in the Sunday Philosophy Club series by Alexander McCall Smith and, even though I haven't read it yet, I know it is a story to treasure.

This series is set in Scotland and the carefully-phrased prose reveals many of the area's delights. The stories are very intelligent and provoke us to think more deeply about human interaction, while also being totally entertaining. Can you tell I am a huge fan of this series?

I will probably fondle and look at this book for a few days before starting to read it - prolonging the anticipation of the delight to come.

26 October 2006

A long weekend

I am absurdly excited at the prospect of a long weekend. Tomorrow is a day of annual leave, so the weekend seems to stretch forever. So many options - where to start? Tomorrow I promise myself to: take a long walk; buy a new book; do my tax return; plant some seeds; and start quilting Watermelon Summer. Check back Friday night to see how many of these I achieved.

23 October 2006

Eternally optimistic

I love the look of lavender plants. I have always wanted a large, lush lavender bush in my garden; one that will flower profusely and attract masses of bees. In the past five years I have planted and killed seven lavender plants. Different types of lavender, different spots in the garden - they all died.

Ever the optimist, I bought another one yesteday and planted it in a large terracotta pot. I took this photograph to remind myself that, for one brief moment in time, I had a flowering lavender bloom in my garden. Let's see how long this one lasts!

22 October 2006

Stage 2

Here's stage 2 of Watermelon Summer. It's ready to be sandwiched and quilted, but I am not sure what I want to do. I'm inclined to do machine quilting that just blends into the background, but I'm not sure. Stand by for the next stage...

The company of friends

Yesterday I performed my duty as tea lady at the meeting of The Quilters' Guild of NSW. It was the annual general meeting, which meant that new office bearers were elected for the coming year. It is also the meeting when all the Guild's Challenge quilts are displayed for the first time and the winners are announced. What a variety of theme interpretations there were! Photographs of the winners will be posted on the Guild's website in due course.

More importantly, for me, the Guild meetings offer the opportunity to catch up with friends I may not have seen for a while. This is when ideas are sparked, plans are made and we are stimulated by each other's work. Just to give you an idea of yesterday's discussions: Brenda gave a demonstration of her free-form curved cutting technique and we all coveted the portable sewing table she had; I showed my silk paper and we started planning a weekend away together where we could 'play' with silk paper; Monica, recently back from the USA, gave me a set of US stamps featuring the Gees Bends quilts and we all started talking about those designs; Pamela shared her latest piece of work she's making for a friend (lovely chiffon binding); Fiona told us about the workshop space and accommodation her sister has in Braidwood (maybe this could be a venue for the weekend?); and we swapped ATCs.

All-in-all, it was a most satisfying day. I returned home, stimulated by all the talking and eager to get stuck in to my current project. Such is the company of friends.

16 October 2006

Latest ATC

Tonight I finished off my latest batch of ATCs in preparation for a swap next Saturday at the NSW Guild meeting (I am the official tea lady at these meetings - hey, we all have some skills to offer!). This ATC is made of felt that I've drawn on with my beloved oil pastels, then l've blobbed copper-coloured paint on top. Finally, I used one of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine to stitch a pattern. I like this one too much to give away, but at least I can let you look at it!

15 October 2006

No progress today

No more work was done on Watermelon Summer today, for a variety of reasons. This is frustrating because I have the next section planned and laid out on the table.

Susan asked if the lines were stitching - yes they are, with perle thread. The photo is of the left-hand side of the quilt and the strips of fabric are hand stitched to the background. I have the right-hand side pieces laid out, but not yet hand stitched.

14 October 2006

Stage 1

Remember those pink and yellow fabrics I bought last week? I am making a small 12-inch quilt with them and here is the first stage. The name of the quilt is Watermelon Summer and if today's temperature is any indication, that is exactly what we will be having once summer arrives this year. It's 38 degrees at my house right now. More tomorrow...

More on silk paper

Here are the promised photos of the silk paper I made last weekend. I am not keen on solid mats of felt-like substance - I prefer the lace-like effect of colours and shapes. One of the pieces is very see-through and when I stitch it to a piece of coloured fabric, there will be another dimension of colour to enjoy. All the pieces were photographed against a white sheet, so you can see white through the gaps in the silk paper. Enjoy!

10 October 2006

Silk 'paper'

I really shouldn't talk about this until I can show the photos, but I made four sheets of silk 'paper' on Sunday. Made with silk tops, teased out and arranged to create lacey patterns, my pieces are simply gorgeous (if I do say so myself). Stand by until I can take photos - it will be worth the wait!

08 October 2006

The border is on

The first border is on! All those little fish, swimming around the blocks. I am planning double rows of blocks around the outside and started to piece them yesterday. Five blocks down and many more to go...

07 October 2006

Still on pink

Here's the luscious fabric I bought today - aren't they the most cheerful colours? Certainly not colours I would comfortably work with but hey, that's part of the challenge. Let's see what I can make with them...

05 October 2006

Pink musings

It's taken a few days, but now I understand why pink and yellow have been infiltrating my creative thoughts lately. Here's a photo I took last weekend. My standard Seduction rose is in full bloom. I cut an armful of roses - some fully open, while others were still closed buds. Once I'd filled a vase with them, I took a series of photos. My aim was to capture the colours, not necessarily the detail, so I made them slightly out of focus. It is these colours - the shades of pink, the soft white and the yellows - that have stayed within my brain since.

The miracle of the subconscious has worked its creative brilliance and processed the image. This quilt has to happen soon - I can feel the idea of these colours forcing themselves out. Truly, the brain is a miraculous part of us all.

04 October 2006

Colour urge

I have an extremely strong urge to use vivid pinks and yellows together in a small quilt. Where did this come from? Is it from the same source that creates a craving for a particular type of food? Will this colour combination satisfy something that's lacking in my life? Well stand by, because I'm shopping for fabrics in these colours on the weekend and nothing else will satisfy the hunger that's appeared. Any theories?

02 October 2006

A new friend

Last Friday, I was a guest speaker at the opening of the Novocastrian Quilt Show. It was a wonderful show and I met many friendly quilters. The President, Maureen Deering, kindly presented me with a thank-you gift - here he is! It was the funniest moment. Once you press his hand, he starts singing the Swans club song and waves his scarf around his head - much like I do when I'm at the games! I modestly declined the invitation to sing along in front of the very amused group of Novocastrian quilters and their friends. Thank you to Michelle Gatenby and Maureen for a wonderful night.

01 October 2006

One day in September

It has taken me 24 hours to come to terms with the one point loss of the Swans yesterday. Today we went to the SCG to welcome the team home and applaud them on their effort - here's a photo of the team today. I know many people just don't 'get' football or the effect it has on fans, but let me attempt to explain.

This is my tribe. It is human nature to belong to groups - families, friends and groups of like-minded people. AFL is in my blood - my Dad and his brothers played it when they were young men and I grew up watching the game on TV and local Sydney games. When the Swans came to Sydney 25 years ago, we adopted them. We sat through 26 losses in a row. We cheered for them and did the only thing a crowd can do: we showed our support. We wear the colours of out tribe, our family - I am a member of the Bloods.

Like any footy fan says: there's always next year.

28 September 2006

On hand piecing

Thank you for the positive comments about my Japanese quilt project. I have been collecting indigo prints and Japanese-style fabrics in reds, cream and white for years, but never really knew what to do with them. Once I decided which way to go, hand piecing was my first choice.

The meditative process of stitching by hand soothes me. It is important because it slows me down and provides plenty of time for my mind to wander. Sometimes I get my best ideas while hand piecing. The stitching gets into a rhythm and I don't really need to concentrate on it, so other thoughts can form. I guess that's because I first learnt to patchwork by hand and it has stuck with me.

Of course, this means it takes a VERY long time to finish anything!

27 September 2006

More on China Bayles

Susan asked VERY nicely if I could tell her the order of the China Bayles books by Susan Wittig Albert, so how could I refuse?
1. Thyme of Death
2. Witch's Bane
3. Hangman's Root
4. Rosemary Remembered
5. Rueful Death
6. Love Lies Bleeding
7. Chile Death
8. Lavender Lies
9. Mistletoe Man
10. Bloodroot
11. Indigo Dying
12. Dilly of a Death
13. Dead Man's Bones
14. Bleeding Hearts
15. Spanish Dagger (due out in 2007)
I think that so far 1-12 are available in paperback as well as hardback. (Sorry, that's the librarian in me coming through!)

26 September 2006


Finally I have photos of a current project. Based on the simple rectangles from the book by Judy Turner and Margaret Rolfe, Successful Scrap Quilts, this is a hand-pieced top that I started last year and take along to monthly Scquilters meetings to piece. Since I never really read patterns properly (too keen to get started piecing), I pieced the rectangles in an arrangement I liked.

The other photo is of a piece of fabric I bought recently from Jane MacDonald of BeBeBold. I plan to use the fish fabric as a border, swimming around the centre blocks. Stand by for another year or so until I make some more blocks...

24 September 2006

My fantasy life

I have many fantasy lives, all of which I experience through the joy of reading fiction. This book, Bleeding Hearts, is the latest in the China Bayles series by Susan Albert Wittig. China is an ex-lawyer who owns a shop that sells herbs. She sets up herb gardens, sells herbal products and runs a tea shop in conjunction with her friend, Ruby.

There are 14 books in the series so far, and China's life gets more interesting in each one. In Bleeding Hearts, quilting is introduced, with the opening of a quilt shop next door and a quilt stolen from the local quilt show. The story line follows China and Ruby as they solve the mystery of the stolen quilt (and other challenges along the way). I want to be China!

23 September 2006

Onwards to victory!

Here I am at 1 o'clock in the morning with my adrenalin levels still extremely high after a night's screaming and singing as the mighty Swans won the game that takes them to the AFL grand final next Saturday. This pic shows a view of the crowd just before the start of the game - a total of 61,000 people (most dressed in red and white) attended the game. Onwards!

19 September 2006

To meander

Sometimes 'meander' is taken to mean wandering aimessly, lost and with no purpose. A sad interpretation, I've always thought. A more positive explanation is that of taking a winding course through life, being aware of all that we see on the way and taking the time to notice. What could we miss if in a rush to travel a straight line from one point to another? We'll never know unless we slow down.

18 September 2006


While I was away from home for a week, spring arrived in my garden. Leaves unfurled and flowers bloomed. This Japanese maple, given to me by Stephanie from her garden before she moved to Perth, suddenly revealed its new growth - lush and delicately-shaped.

17 September 2006

Spot the rosella

The Coral trees on the nature strip outside my house are in full flower. I love to see the glorious red of the flowers against the vibrant blue of the sky. While I took this photograph, a flock of rosellas swooped down into the branches and enjoyed a feast. They blended into the colours so well - can you spot them?